More Project Management Best Practice Tips
In general, I recommend checking in on project status no less than once a week. If you wait longer, say two weeks, by the time you find out an issue, get it solved, confirm the solution, and make sure things are on track, you can lose up to six weeks. Serious issues may require more frequent meetings than weekly so you can stay on top of the solution. The key is both flexibility and good judgement.
When it comes to controlling project costs, the timing may be even more important. The timing of money commitment, the actual expenditure,the arrival of the bill, and the payment of that bill may occur at drastically different times. To be sure things are appropriately tracked, you should:
- develop a budget
- have an appropriate change control method in place to manage scope and finances
- take note of when the expense was incurred
- promptly forward bills for payment
- carefully monitor the budget
- take action in a prompt and timely manner if financial targets aren't being met.
This week someone questioned the wisdom of having a weekly project status meeting where all project team members participated to discuss issues and potential requirements changes. "Wouldn't that be an expensive meeting?" he asked. "Sure", I replied, "but imagine the expense without it."
It's especially important when dealing with a virtual team or remote clients. Without it, instead of managing the project, there are endless phone calls and side conversations. Agreements get made, not documented, and changed. Requirements change and costs go up. It's far less expensive to get everyone together for a short, weekly meeting, bring all the issues to the table, and keep everyone on the same page.
There are a few things to keep in mind to make the meeting effective:
1) Keep it short and to the point -- have an agenda
2) Make sure all key players are available or have a "proxy" participate
3) Stay focused and keep the time productive -- make sure everyone participates
4) Take notes and...
When selecting any resource of any type for a project, always keep in mind the automatic selection of the "cheapest" won't always be the least expensive option. This is why we have competitive bidding for major contracts -- we get a peek at the other dimensions. Does the resource meet our need? Will our requirements be met? Will quality meet our standards?
Let's suppose we can choose between 3 "near shore" programmers working for $20 an hour each or a local programmer making $80,000 per year (or approximately $40 per hour). All facts considered, we are paying the near shore programmers $60 per hour or $20 more per hour than the local programmer. Now we also need to look at their track record -- what is their history of project delivery -- to assist in making the right decision. If the near shore programmers can deliver in less time and higher quality, they may be the right choice.
Some of you may remember the 4 Hour House, a project/competition sponsored by the San Diego Building...
A lot of folks in San Diego wonder how the construction of Petco Park, a managed project, could have possibly spent all the funding before it was half completed without anyone knowing. While I certainly don't have proof as to the actual cause, there is one very good way projects can get into this state -- they failed to look at all three key project success factors -- time, cost, and performance.
The usual illustrative story goes something like this ... you hire a painter to paint four walls in four days. Each day is budgeted for $1,000 for a total of $4,000. If at the end of 2 days, I tell you the painters spent $1,500, do you know what the status of the project is? No because you don't know how much work was actually completed. If I were to tell you the painters finished 3.5 walls, would you know? No, because you don't know how much was spent.
Earned Value is a project management technique which can help you look at time, cost, and performance of your project. Using it can provide...